Before the 16th cent., Perak was the vassal state of the powers that in turn dominated the Malay Peninsula. After the fall of Malacca (1511), it was for a time dominated by the sultan of Aceh in Sumatra; in the 19th cent. it was invaded by Kedah at Siam's instigation. Civil war, augmented by disorders among the Chinese tin miners, plunged Perak in the 19th cent. into anarchy, and it became a British protectorate (1874). In 1896, Perak became one of the Federated Malay States, and in 1948 it became part of the Federation of Malaya. See Malaysia.
See J. F. McNair, Perak and the Malays (1878, repr. 1973).
Perak is one of the 13 states of Malaysia. It is the second largest state in Peninsular Malaysia bordering Kedah and Yala Province of Thailand to the north, Penang to the northwest, Kelantan and Pahang to the east, Selangor southward and to the west by the Strait of Malacca.
Perak means silver in Malay. The name comes most probably from the silvery colour of tin. In the 1890s, Perak, with the richest alluvial deposits of tin in the world was one of the jewels in the crown of the British Empire. However, some say the name comes from the "glimmer of fish in the water" that sparkled like silver. The Arab honorific of the State is Darul Ridzuan, the Land of Grace.
Ipoh, the state capital of Perak, is known historically for its rich tin-mining activities until the drop of tin price, which has severely affected the state economy. The royal capital, however, is set in Kuala Kangsar, where the palace of the Sultan of Perak is located.
Legends tell of a Hindu-Malay kingdom called Gangga Negara in the northwest of Perak. Archaeological discoveries indicate that Perak has been inhabited since prehistoric times.
The modern history of Perak began with the fall of the Malacca Sultanate. The eldest son of the last Sultan of Melaka (Sultan Mahmud Shah), Raja Muzaffar Shah, fleeing the Portuguese conquest of 1511, established his own dynasty on the banks of the Sungai Perak (Perak River) in 1528. As the Perak area was extremely rich in tin, it was under almost continuous threat from outsiders.
Early history of the Dutch arrival in Perak began in 1641, when they captured the Straits of Malacca by taking control of tin-ore and spice trading. The Dutch attempted to monopolise the tin-ore tradings in Perak by influencing Sultan Muzaffar Syah, the Sultan of Perak, but did not succeed. They then turned to Sultanah Tajul Alam Safiatuddin, the Sultan of Aceh, to seek permission to trade in Perak. The event compelled the Sultan of Perak to sign the treaty, allowing the Dutch to build their plant in Kuala Perak on August 15 1650, which caused dissatisfaction among the aristocracy of Perak.
In 1651, Temenggung and the people of Perak attacked and destroyed the Dutch plant. The Dutch were forced to leave their base in Perak.
In 1655, the Dutch sent a representative to Perak to renew the agreement made earlier and to seek compensation for the loss of their plant. Perak however did not honour the treaty and was thus surrounded by the Dutch. In retaliation, the people of Perak with Aceh, Ujung Salang, launched a surprise attack on the Dutch.
In 1670, the Dutch returned to Perak to build Kota Kayu, now known as Kota Belanda ("Dutch Fortress"), on Pangkor Island.
Perak agreed to the construction because of news that the Kingdom of Siam would be attacking the state. Nevertheless, in 1685, once again Perak attacked the Dutch on Pangkor Island and forced them to retreat and shut down their headquarters. The Dutch attempted to negotiate for a new treaty but failed.
In the 18th century, the Bugis, Acehnese, and the Thai all attempted to invade Perak. Only British intervention in 1820 prevented Siam from annexing Perak. Although the British were initially reluctant to establish a colonial presence in Malaya, increasing investment in the tin mines brought a great influx of Chinese immigrants, who formed rival clan groups allied with Malay chiefs and local gangsters, all of whom battled to control the mines. The Perak sultanate, involved in a protracted succession struggle, was unable to maintain order.
In her book The Golden Chersonese and The Way Thither (published 1892 G.P. Putnam's Sons) Victorian traveller and adventuress Isabella Lucy Bird (1831-1904) describes how Raja Muda Abdullah (as he then was) turned to his friend in Singapore, Tan Kim Ching. Tan, together with an English merchant in Singapore drafted a letter to Governor Sir Andrew Clarke which Abdullah signed. The letter expressed Abdullah's desire to place Perak under British protection, and "to have a man of sufficient abilities to show (him) a good system of government." In 1874, the Straits Settlements governor Sir Andrew Clarke convened a meeting on Pulau Pangkor, at which Sultan Abdullah was installed on the throne of Perak in preference to his rival, Sultan Ismail. This Pangkor Treaty also required that the sultan accept a British Resident, who would control all administrative issues other than those pertaining to religion or Malay custom. In 1875, various Perak chiefs assassinated the British Resident James W.W. Birch, resulting in the short-lived Perak War of 1876. Sultan Abdullah was exiled to the Seychelles, and the British installed a new ruler. The new resident, Sir Hugh Low, was well versed in the Malay language and customs, and proved to be a more capable administrator. He also introduced the first rubber trees to Malaya.
Perak gained independence from the British on August 31, 1957 along with 10 other states in the Federation of Malaya. The federation was enlarged to form Malaysia on September 16, 1963 following the admission of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore. Singapore separated from Malaysia in 1965.
Following the opposition coalition winning Perak in the General Election in 2008, Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin of PAS was appointed as the new Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) of the state eventually, although DAP won the most seats compared to other opposition parties. The Menteri Besar did not come from the Chinese-based party as the State Constitution states that the Chief Minister must be a Muslim, unless the Sultan specially appoints a non-Muslim Chief Minister. As DAP does not have any Muslim assemblymen, if the Sultan insists that the Chief Minister must be a Muslim, then the assemblymen would have to come from either KeADILan or PAS, which formed the coalition state government with DAP.
|Dilanjutkan Allah usianya Sultan|
Adil dan murah memerintah watan
Ditaati rakyat kiri dan kanan
Iman yang soleh Allah kurniakan
Allah berkati Perak Darul Ridzuan
Allah selamatkan Negeri dan Sultan
Allah, grant the Sultan a long life|
Just and gracious, ruling the homeland
Obeyed by the people left and right
Allah endow the righteous faith
Sanctify Perak Darul Ridzuan, O Allah
Salvage the State and Sultan, O Allah
Please note that the districts of Kerian and Larut, Matang dan Selama have been wrongly labelled in the map on the right. Both districts are in the northwest corner of the state. Kerian district is in the west and Larut, Matang dan Selama is in the east.
These districts eventually are divided into several Mukims or Counties which are more politically significant.The main cities and towns in Perak are:
Perak's days are warm and sunny, while its nights are cool the whole year through, with occasional rains in the evenings. Temperature is fairly constant, that is, from 23°C to 33°C, with humidity often more than 82.3 percent. Annual rainfall measures at 3,218 mm.
Before recession hit the economies of countries and states world wide, Perak was one of Malaysia's wealthiest. But the 1980s saw the collapse of the tin industry, crippling Perak’s economy. Prices plummeted and once lucrative mines were forced to close.
This, in turn, forced the Perak State Government to make a firm decision to diversify the economy's base towards the more value added, resource-linked manufacturing. The mid-1980s saw a large influx of electronics SMEs from Taiwan to Silibin and Jelapang industrial estates, but by 1990s, they have relocated to lower cost China. A new car manufacturing hub called Proton City at Tanjung Malim has been developed with the establishment of state-of-the-art car manufacturing facilities. The Proton City at Tanjung Malim has become the largest manufacturer of Proton cars (Malaysia's national car maker).
Agriculture is also one of Perak’s main industries, especially those concerning rubber, coconut and palm oil. Tourism is fast catching on as more and more people discover Perak’s hidden gems in the form of natural attractions and cultural sights.
While the economy is growing through the industrial sector, Perak's sound infrastructure and world class facilities of make it an ideal environment for businesses.
Kuala Kangsar, just 48km north of Ipoh on the Perak River, is the royal town of Perak. It is dominated by three buildings: Istana Iskandariah, Istana Kenangan and the Ubudiah mosque. The Istana Iskandariah, located on a hill overlooking the river, is the palace of the Sultan of Perak. Istana Kenangan, which was constructed as a temporary residence during the Iskandariah's construction is known for its beautiful architecture. The Ubudiah mosque is an impressive structure topped with a constellation of bright golden domes.
Kellie's castle is located in Batu Gajah. It was built in 1915 and was never completed as the owner William Kellie Smith returned to England and died there. Many believe the castle is haunted, having many secret rooms and even a hidden tunnel. Today, it is opened as a tourist attraction.
Accessible from Lumut, the Pangkor Island holds a mix of quaint fishing settlements and white beaches decked with rich vegetation. The warm waters are perfect for swimming and diving while the atmosphere is simply relaxing. Many resorts are available for accommodation on this popular island.
Tempoyak is another popular Malay delicacy. It is durian extract which is preserved and kept in an urn. Commonly eaten with chillies and other dishes, it is well known due to the popularity of its key ingredient, durian, among the locals.
See also: Ipoh cuisine.